Leominster man stomps on woman’s face in Market Basket checkout line after allegedly making rude remarks to his girlfriend
LEOMINSTER – On Tuesday, January 3, at about 5:50 p.m., Officer James McKenna of the Leominster Police Department was in Market Basket in full uniform purchasing some personal items when a woman near the checkout line exclaimed “Officer! There’s a fight! There’s a fight!”
According to Officer McKenna’s Narrative for the incident, the woman waved her arms in the direction of a brawl that enthralled the “incredibly crowded checkout area.”
When he rounded the corner, Officer McKenna said he saw Market Basket employees separating the three following parties: Caol Nicely, 29, of Leominster, Nicole Hartford, 39, of Woonsocket, RI, and Talya Gonzalez, 40, of Leominster.
Officer McKenna said he turned on his body camera and called for backup.
“All three parties were extremely agitated and were engaging in loud back-and-forth banter making it impossible to conduct an investigation,” wrote Officer McKenna in his Narrative. “I issued several warnings for all parties to be quiet and separate until I could get more officers to assist me. Once everyone quieted down, I was able to begin interviewing the three parties. However, at times they would continue to yell back-and-forth at one another.”
Officer McKenna began his investigation by speaking with Hartford. Hartford said that her boyfriend, Nicely, was standing in line without their carriage waiting for her to return with their cart, when Gonzalez – who was a stranger to them – came up from behind in an apparent attempt to cut Nicely in line. According to Hartford’s account, as she approached the line with her cart, Gonzalez “said something rude,” then went over to the next line.
“Nicole explained to me she told Talya that ‘you didn’t have to be rude about it.’ Nicole then continued to say ‘the b*tch starts running her mouth.’ Nicole continues to say Talya had finished checking out before her,” wrote Officer McKenna in his Narrative.
Hartford said that after Gonzalez completed her checkout, she walked in front of her and said “f$cking b*tch, you’re gonna run that mouth, but you’re not gonna do sh*t.” Hartford said she responded by moving out from behind her carriage and telling Talya to leave the store, at which point Gonzalez approached and began swinging at her.
“[Nicole] then states that she grabbed Talya by her shirt and then Talya ‘started swinging,’” wrote Officer McKenna in his Narrative. “Nicole then reiterated that she moved out from behind her carriage, but only after she was approached by Talya and Talya ‘started swinging.’”
Officer McKenna then spoke with Nicely who claimed that Talya had “mistakenly” pulled a shopping cart up behind him and began “talking sh*t” to Hartford.
“Caol stated that once Talya neared the [exit] door, she ‘starts talking more sh*t’ to Nicole,” wrote Officer McKenna in his Narrative.
Caol said that Gonzalez then taunted Hartford, saying, “you’re gonna talk all that shit, but you’re not gonna do nothing?” at which point Gonzalez approached Hartford and began hitting her.
Gonzalez had a different account, however.
“I then spoke with Talya. Talya stated Caol was at register 14 without a carriage and she had walked to the register. She stated she then moved to the next register and was called a ‘b*tch’ by Nicole,” wrote Officer McKenna in his Narrative. “Talya admitted to calling Nicole a ‘b*tch’ in return and the pair then engaged in some sort of verbal dispute. Talya then stated that she had completed her transaction and was leaving the store when Nicole began making strange faces at her. Talya then stated she called Nicole a ’weirdo’ and Caol reportedly said ‘go get her’ to Nicole, which apparently prompted Nicole to maneuver around the carriage, and the pair started fighting. Talya stated she had gone to the ground during the fight. Once on the ground, she stated Caol grabbed her by the hair, kneed her in the stomach, then kicked her in the face with his white Nike shoes. It is also important to note that Caol possesses a significant size advantage over Talya.”
According to Officer McKenna, Gonzalez had dust marks on the front of her blouse that were consistent with her statement.
Officer McKenna then spoke with the store manager, Stephanie Dungan, to get her side of the story.
Dungan said she was called to the checkout area where she saw Nicely stomping on Gonzalez’s face. She added that when she attempted to pull Nicely off Gonzalez, he swiped at her as if he was going to slap her.
Dungan then took Officer McKenna to her office so she could show him the security camera footage of the fight.
Officer McKenna said that although the supermarket’s security cameras captured two angles, they were “not incredibly fruitful for evidentiary purposes” because it was difficult for him to discern any individual “blows or strikes” from the camera footage.
Nevertheless, Officer McKenna said the security camera footage did capture Hartford abandoning her shopping cart and maneuvering around it, in order to lunge at Gonzalez and then push her.
According to Officer McKenna’s Narrative, Hartford then struck Gonzalez multiple times, bringing her to the ground, where Caol kicked her repeatedly.
“I asked Stephanie if she felt Caol was acting excessive and she vehemently confirmed the sentiment that he was excessive,” wrote Officer McKenna in his Narrative. “The bulk of this footage is contrary to Nicole’s statements initially. I question Nicole’s credibility due to this contradictory information.”
Caol was then arrested for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (shod foot).
Gonzalez was arrested for a default warrant. She was also summoned to Leominster District Court for disorderly conduct.
Hartford was summoned to Leominster District Court for disorderly conduct and assault and battery.
Disclaimer: If you are wondering why the incident in this story was from January, that’s because I had to file FOIA request(s) to get the court documents for the incident. FOIAs are time consuming.